Vaccine alone will not keep people safe: WHO DG

Eudore R. Chand

epa06747281 Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), attends a press conference at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, 18 May 2018. The WHO Director-General answered questions ahead of the World Health Assembly and following the meeting of an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. EPA-EFE/VALENTIN FLAURAUD

GENEVA 2 March 2021: Even as vaccines continue to roll out, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is urging all governments and individuals to remember that vaccines alone will not keep them safe and that basic public health measures remain the foundation of the response.

In his opening remarks at the media briefing on Covid-19 on Monday, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said: ”Vaccines will help to save lives, but if countries rely solely on vaccines, they’re making a mistake. Basic public health measures remain the foundation of the response.”

That means testing, contact tracing, isolation, supported quarantine and quality care for public health authorities, while for individuals, it means avoiding crowds, physical distancing, hand hygiene, masks and ventilation, said Wam.

”This is a global crisis that requires a consistent and coordinated global response.” In the past week, he noted, the number of reported cases of Covid-19 increased for the first time in 7 weeks. You remember that I reported the virus was declining for 6 consecutive weeks, but for the first time in 7 weeks, we have an increase.

”Reported cases increased in four of WHO’s six regions: the Americas, Europe, South East Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean – so we don’t report increases in Africa and the Western Pacific.

”We’re working to better understand these increases in transmission. Some of it appears to be due to relaxing of public health measures, continued circulation of variants, and people letting down their guard,” he added.

Today, he announced that Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire started vaccinating health workers against COVID-19, becoming the first countries to start vaccination campaigns with doses supplied through Covax, the vaccines pillar of the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.

”A further 11 million doses will be delivered this week. Between now and the end of May, 237 million doses of vaccines will be allocated to 142 participating economies and countries in Covax,” he said.

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